6 PR Tips for Winning at Groundbreaking Ceremonies

Katalinas Communications assisted Whitemarsh Township Authority with public relations for a recent groundbreaking ceremony.
Katalinas Communications provided public relations assistance to the Whitemarsh Township Authority in its quest to build a new office.

If an organization breaks ground on a new building and no one knows about it, did it really happen? When sharing news about new construction projects ­- both big and small – an effective public relations and communications strategy is key.

Katalinas Communications recently assisted the Whitemarsh Township Authority in a PR campaign aimed at broadcasting information about a new office building planned for completion in 2020.

To have a successful groundbreaking event and receive the desired response in the beginning (and throughout the life of the project) we followed this tried and true approach. It can easily be adapted to suit the needs of your organization.

Know your audience

As with most communications efforts, it is important to first know who you would like to reach. Who are your stakeholders? Who would be most likely to benefit from your announcement or who would be most interested in learning about your project? If your plans involve opening a new store, for example, who would be your ideal customer?

A communications plan should address various ways to share your news with possible customers.
Once you understand your audience and how best to reach them, you can craft a creative communications strategy. 

How can you reach them?

Once you nail down your audience it’s time to determine where to find them. Where do you regularly communicate? Do you interact with followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your organization’s Website? Do you regularly distribute news through email messages or newsletters?

If your business is in process, as mentioned above, you may be starting from scratch. You may not yet have followers, customers, or stakeholders. Now is the perfect time to let everyone in on the excitement!

Create a communications strategy

Now that you know your audience (and hopefully) where to find them, start brainstorming your plan. Since some people prefer one platform or communication style over another, I suggest considering a multi-pronged approach to reach the most people possible. In using Whitemarsh Township Authority as an example, we looked at ways to reach the Authority’s existing customer base. I wrote an announcement for the Website, invited Philadelphia-area television news stations (two TV stations attended our event) and shared a press release and photos with local print and online publications after the groundbreaking ceremony. In case ratepayers missed all those communications, the Authority is planning to include news in its upcoming newsletter as well.

Your plan should be unique to your business or organization. Don’t forget to have fun with it!

Think outside the box when planning your groundbreaking ceremony.
Seek the light bulb moments in making your event memorable.

Color outside the lines

We have all seen the groundbreaking ceremonies with a few officials wearing hard hats, digging in the first shovel of dirt to commemorate construction of a new building. It may be traditional, but it isn’t the only way to showcase new construction. Instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach, ask yourself how you can brand this event as your own. Instead of construction hats, it might make more sense to show off wide-brimmed straw hats that you will be selling at your store. Or perhaps you plug your business with specially made T-shirts that you and fellow groundbreakers will wear. Maybe you are opening a construction company and you would rather have one of your excavators unearth the first shovel of dirt. Whatever the idea, embrace it fully and it will be much more memorable.

Short speeches are best for groundbreaking ceremonies.
Groundbreaking ceremony speeches are most effective when they are brief and focus on a central theme.

Keep it short and sweet

In addition to unearthing the first few shovels of dirt, groundbreaking ceremonies typically include a speech or two. You may wish to invite a dignitary or thought leader in your profession to join you in sharing a few words.

Now that you know who will speak, what should you say? Your words should be concise, yet impactful. What’s the main takeaway or message you want to convey? Why is this construction important? What’s the value for your audience? Narrow down your thoughts to focus on a central point and build your talk around this theme.

Follow up 

Depending on the nature of your construction project, it could be a few months or even a year or more until your building is complete. Consider strategies to regularly communicate updates with your audience. Post photo or video updates of construction. Has your timeline been impacted by weather? Is the project moving forward ahead of schedule? Do you know when it will be complete and when you will be open? Give your audience a stake in your project by keeping them in the loop. Once complete, it’s always fun to share before, during and after montages.

Katalinas Communications offers marketing, public relations and social media strategy and management services for projects both large and small and for clients with varying budgets. To learn more about how we can help your business or organization, email Theresa to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

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